Looking for a real island getaway, far from the crowds, noise, and mass tourism? Only a 1.5-hour drive from Cancun lies a magical island by the name of Isla Holbox, or Holbox Island. Only accessible by ferry or air, Holbox has no paved roads, and is home to diverse wildlife. The lagoon that separates Holbox from the mainland is home to over 150 different species of birds, including seasonal colonies of flamingos.
Located northeast of Cancun in the Gulf of Mexico, Holbox is 26 miles (42 kilometers) long and 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) wide and its town is comprised mainly of fisherman and their families bringing the total inhabitants to roughly 3,500. The town's colorful houses and white sand streets are complemented by an array of small markets, restaurants, and hip stores selling the creative works of the local artisans and photographers. The primary mode of transportation in Holbox is by bicycle or golf cart, with cars and trucks being the exception to the norm.
Every summer from May through until September, hundreds of whales sharks migrate to the plankton-rich waters around Holbox. Swimming with whale sharks is a popular activity as you can observe them in their natural habitat and it is one of the only places in the world where you have the opportunity to do this.
In fact, Holbox forms part of the Yum Balam Nature Reserve, which considers the area of the whale sharks as a sanctuary. The beauty and tranquility of Holbox make a day trip to this nearby island a definite must on your to-do list in the Mexican Caribbean. And don't forget to take your camera, as you'll be treated to some of the most spectacular sunsets that you've likely ever experienced.
Here are some things you should know about Holbox Island.
Public transportation is available to/and from the town of Chiquila from Cancun and Playa del Carmen. Once in Chiquila, you'll need to take a 30-minute ferry ride over to the island. Special parking lots are available for those who rent a car. Likewise, PlayaDelCarmen.com offers transfers to/from Holbox from anywhere in Cancun, Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen, Puerto Aventuras, Akumal or Tulum.
Accommodations on Holbox are varied, and there is something for every taste bud and budget. From hostels and camping sites to boutique hotels and mini-resorts, Holbox has a solution for just about everyone. HM Villas Paraiso del Mar is the island's only all-inclusive hotel, and is one of the most popular hotels alongside Villas Flamingos, Hotel Las Nubes, La Palapa, CasaSandra and Mawimbi, among others.
What most stands out about Holbox Island is the island's tranquil vibes and slow pace. However, that doesn't mean there aren't great things to do on the island as well. Popular Holbox excursions include the 3-island tour, a visit to Cabo Catoche, fishing, swimming with whale sharks, kite surfing, and kayaking through the mangrove channels.
Visitors to Holbox are always just as pleasantly surprised by the quality of good food on the island as they are by the quantity of great restaurants. For such a small island, Holbox packs a mean culinary punch. From fresh ceviche at Raices to stuffed salty pastries at La Parrilla de Juan and the always a surprise, menuless El Chapulim, you won't be able to get enough of all the delicious goodness Holbox has to offer. And we didn't even mention the lobster pizzas, the local empanadas, the French bakery or the dynamite drinks, people and food at Zapata's.
For more information on traveling to Holbox Island, contact our travel gurus toll-free at 1-888-537-9797. They'll happily provide you with all the information you need to include this magical place on your list of things to see and do in Mexico.